They were first noticed swooping in and out of the garage. Checking it out to see if this would be a safe home. Very quickly Grand-daughter aged 8, who has eyes of a hawk, (unlike granny, whose eye sight is diminishing) saw the beginnings of a nest been built, high up on a waste pipe which ran along the roof of the garage. She watched with fascination as the nest grew bigger and bigger. The two swallows busied themselves with this task. She noticed soon that feathers were to be found in the garage which the birds would gather and carry up to their nest.
She discovered that either one swallow or the other was always in the nest or sometimes both and they would swoop us as we got in and out of the car. A while later she noticed that the two birds were very busy coming in and out of the garage on a regular basis. When the garage door was down, it left a small gap at the top of it, and she soon found out that the skill of flight of these birds was amazing, they flew through this gap at some speed.

One day she was playing in the garage and she raced up the stairs to tell us she could hear peeping. We got a stool, whilst one stood watch for the mum or dad bird, up she climbed, and low and behold there to greet her were 4 wide open beaks. She was allowed to carefully place one finger gently into the nest of birds and was amazed at how warm it was in there. Next minute a bird swooped in and we quickly retreated.

We became very used to being swooped by these birds and had learned to duck quickly. One bright sunny day we found 4 little chicks out of the nest and perched upon the waste pipe stretching their tiny wings. Days past and the parents worked very hard to feed these hungry mouths.

One afternoon we pulled into the garage and there before us was the nest collapsed on the floor, we got out and a frenzied search began for the baby birds. Meantime the parents began to swoop ever so close to ones face. She was dispatched back into the car and Nan armed with a net went about the task of trying to catch the fluttering babies. By now the parent birds were doing a double act in trying to attack poor Nan. Nan realised the cat was about and the baby birds would be easy targets. Being the mother of invention she thought quickly, so crouching low with an umbrella over her head to prevent the attack from the parents she managed to scoop up all 4 little babies. If this had been videoed I am sure we would have won “America’s funniest home video”

Buried was in the back of the garage was an old bird cage. So the babies were safely deposited in there and the doors clipped open. This was placed way up high and we retreated back to a corner to watch. She watched in awe as the parents quickly discovered their babies and even better they did not mind that they were now in a cage. Several days passed and one morning we woke to a beautiful warm sunny day, and discover that the Mum & Dad bird were taking the babies out, one at a time for flying lessons. With one parent bird either side of the baby they would take it into the sky, their movements in sync, thus began the dance of the swallows, with their babies.

She said to me the other day that raising children must be very hard as look how much work the swallows had to do. “Yes my darling, it is very hard work, it takes commitment and two parents working together and a much harder job if there is only one parent and sometimes it is OK for others to help out a little” Remember this sweet child, remember this!

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Diane Vivian is the founding member and chair of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust NZ. When in 1997, Diane Vivian took over the care of her small, traumatised grandchildren, she could not believe the stress she encountered. Setting about to discover what help or support was available in 1999, she found there was none! The organisation formed to meet this need salutes all Grandparents/kin who have taken in Grand/kin children and put the needs of those precious ones before their own.

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